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How To Have An Authentic Vietnam Street Food Experience

The best kind of travel is one that doesn’t just involve food, but somehow revolves around it. I’m not sure if it’s just a Pinoy thing since our collective love language seems to be gastronomic in nature—'kumain ka na?’ ‘kain tayo!’ and other permutations—but when someone says ‘travel’, we often associate it with ‘what food can we try there?

It doesn’t matter if the Philippines is already a melting pot of different cuisines, be it Western or Eastern influences. When Filipinos say they’re going somewhere, at the top of their itinerary is to try the most authentic version of a dish. And so in Vietnam, we set out to be one with the locals and eat at the neighborhood’s best pho, bun cha, and banh mi places, and as expected we found them in tiny holes in Hanoi walls.

 

Fried Spring Rolls

Hang Be St.                     

                                                           

 

It’s this little corner along Hang Be, right beside a lamp post near the Garden Restaurant. You will definitely miss them if you’re not looking as they don’t have a big sign or a restaurant where you can dine in. You’ll just see them frying up batches of spring rolls nonstop beside a lamppost.

 

 

Bun Cha

No. 25 Gia Ngu

 

 

This is, hands down, the best thing you could eat in Vietnam. Our tour guide said there are lots of good bun cha places, but this one was really good (and cheap!). For a meal for 9 people, it only cost about $10.

 

 

They grill the pork belly to perfection, with the burns on the right places and the fat intact to give you the right texture and taste. Along with the pork, they give you rice noodles, herbs and spices, and a soup-like dipping sauce where you soak all of them together before you take that perfect bite.

 

 

Pho Ga (Chicken Noodle Soup)

Dinh Liet St.

 

 

Crossing the streets of Hanoi is always a death-defying stunt, but it’s always worth it when on the other side is a restaurant guaranteed to warm your belly after.

 

Pho Ga

 

This noodle place serves chicken noodle soup in two ways: traditional and dry. The traditional is of course your usual pho-like concoction but instead of the usual beef, it’s chicken. The dry chicken noodle (pho ga tron) resembles pad thai.

 

Pho Ga Tron

 

Banh Mi

No. 92 Hang Trong St.

 

 

There are several ways of making the popular sandwich and it varies from shop to shop, but the constant is of course the bread and the pork.

Whatever you put inside with it tastes heavenly—be it with coriander, pickled veggies, pate, or just plain pork.

 

 

Eel Noodle

No. 1 Chan Cam St.

 

Eel noodle

 

This one is not for everybody. For the adventurous stomach, it is quite the experience. They call it eel noodle and the other dish is something like a shrimp cake, but made of eel.

 

 

It’s also served with some kind of brown broth that none of us dared to ask about!

 

TIP: In the corner near this restaurant is supposedly one of the best beef noodle soup (pho bo) in town, but we weren’t able to sample a bowl.

 

 

There are all sorts of fruits being sold all over Hanoi by street vendors and some may be familiar to you like the mangosteen, rambutan, lychees, mangoes, etc. which is why it’s only fitting that one of their local delicacies for dessert is the hoa qua dam, or fruit salad as some may call it.

 

 

There are all sorts of fruits being sold all over Hanoi by street vendors and some may be familiar to you like the mangosteen, rambutan, lychees, mangoes, etc. which is why it’s only fitting that one of their local delicacies for dessert is the hoa qua dam, or fruit salad as some may call it.

 

Hoa Qua Dam

 

It’s assorted fruits in a bowl with milk and ice. Yum!

There’s really no better way to experience a country than through its food, and Vietnam offers authentic experience in every corner. Their streets are lined with so many options that you just have to pick which one to try first.

Be ready to get your feet wet (quite literally if you come during the rainy season), your hamstrings pulled (from all the squatting in low stools), and your stomach blissfully full.

 

For an authentic #VietNOMNOMNOM food tour experience, you can get in touch with Nguyen Thu Yen at nguyenyen187@gmail.com, with mobile at +841272829187.